To assess whether heart transplantation (Htx) alters the marked elevation of circulating atrial natriuretic peptides usually found in patients with congestive heart failure (CHF), 14 subjects (nine with compensated and five with decompensated CHF), each with an ejection fraction < or = 28%, were evaluated. Immediately before and hourly for the first 12 hours after Htx, then daily for 21 days and every 1 to 4 weeks for 6 months, the circulating concentrations of the N-terminus (pro atrial natriuretic factor [ANF] 1-98), midportion of the N-terminus (pro ANF 31-67), and C-terminus (that is, ANF) of the 126 amino acid prohormone were measured. Increased (p < 0.001) levels of these peptides were found in superior vena cava, right atrial, and peripheral venous samples 1 hour after Htx in all subjects except one. The atrial natriuretic peptide levels correlated only with right atrial pressure (p < 0.01) in the first 24 hours. Circulating concentrations of these peptides returned to those of healthy adults between 5 and 12 days after Htx in 11 out of 14 Htx recipients. Thus successful Htx can restore the elevated circulating concentrations of atrial natriuretic peptides to those of healthy adults.